Shemite Thread | Genesis 10.21-32
To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan. Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. Genesis 10:21-32 | ESV
“This segmented and linear genealogy is a highly stylized account of Israel’s known world. Seventy nations are given: fourteen from Japheth, thirty from Ham, twenty-six from Shem.” So Waltke sums up the “table of nations.” Interesting that the previously repeated order of “Shem, Ham and Japheth” is here inverted. Was Shem the firstborn and does the narrator here simply save the best for last? Or was Shem the last-born and the traditional “Shem, Ham and Japheth” orders them in subsequent historical importance? Personally I favor Genesis 10 representing a chronological placing of the three sons – throughout this Story God always seems to favor the last and the least! Note that in the setting forth of these twenty-six nations of the Shemite thread of humanity, another crucial thread/splitting takes place in a second narrated short story in the midst of all the names. When the list of names reaches Eber (the originator of “Hebrew”? Perhaps.) the Narrator notes that Eber has two sons, Peleg and Joktan. Foreshadowing the explaining story of Genesis 11, it is noted that in the days of Peleg (“Division”) earth was divided – including brother from brother in Eber’s family. The rest of the story (spoiler!) in Genesis 11 picks up the Peleg thread and as he tugs it we see it leads right to Abraham and beyond him to Israel, and from them ultimately to Christ. Some divisions are happy divisions! Or at least they end up having many happy returns later. For this thread of Peleg, split off Shem’s overall thread, leads to the family thread of Abraham, who, by the end of this Genesis tale, ends up with seventy descendants of his own, mirroring the seventy nations in the table of nations; a microcosm of humanity that will, in turn and time, bring blessing to the macrocosm of us all.
How do you deal with loose ends in movies, in stories, in life? Do you find them annoying and frustrating, or do you see them more as adventurous opportunities inviting further exploration in time? Why?
Lord, thank you that all the multicolored, frayed, and splayed threads of humanity and my existence are not just in your hands, but that you are weaving something beautiful through them. One glorious, beauteous tapestry incorporating both the darker and lighter colors of our unfolding history. Help me to see life so. And help me to surrender the thread of my existence this day into your weaving hands. Through Christ.
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.